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ADD and Homeschooling
Q: I've been homeschooling my sixth-grade son for three years. The reason we chose homeschooling was that he was deemed ADD with a learning disability, and the teacher and principal wanted him placed on medication. We took our son to our pediatrician who said, after many tests, that he was not ADD.
I have made huge changes since we started homeschooling, but I still can't get him to work independently and have a hard time getting him to stay focused and retain the information we go over. Any suggestions? We are using Alpha Omega computer software, and Switched on Schoolhouse.
A: Many parents have experienced similar difficulties and discovered that the materials and/or method of teaching they were using were simply not appropriate for their child's learning style. In a classroom filled with 25 or 30 kids, there is no choice but for each child at a certain age to sit and learn the same thing at the same time, whether or not the child is interested or ready for that material. Homeschooling parents mistakenly believe they must follow that same learning style at home, and often run into the same problems that public-school teachers experience, only on a smaller scale.
Your son sounds like an active boy who probably learns best by doing hands-on activities. For this type of child, sitting with a textbook and working independently is next to impossible. His mind is probably filled with wonderful, creative ideas that need to be expressed. No wonder he has trouble retaining information -- the information is simply not relevant in his life. I suspect that if you give him a little more freedom and guidance rather than strictly following a curriculum or computer program, he will soar.
The Homeschooling Book of Answers by Linda Dobson has lots of suggestions for implementing a homeschool program more appropriate for your son's learning style. The Unschooling Handbook: How to Use the Whole World as Your Child's Classroom by Mary Griffith is another good choice. For a more philosophical understanding of why child-led learning is so successful, read John Holt's How Children Learn.
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Isabel Shaw is a freelance writer and homeschooling mom of 15 years. She and her husband Ray homeschool their two daughters, Jessica and Amanda. Besides being a contributor to FamilyEducation.com, Shaw has written for Home Education Magazine, The Link, Homeschooling Horizons Magazine, The Homeschool Gazette, and other publications.